It took Norwegian telemark binding manufacturer Rottefella a decade to get the revolutionary New Telemark Norm (NTN) to market. So, in the fall of 2006 when Black Diamond announced they'd come to the table with a revolutionary binding of their own by 2008, critics cawed.
And for now, it looks like the skeptics were right. According the BD's Ski Division Manager Thomas Laakso, it's doubtful BD's "grail" binding will be hitting the slopes any time soon.
"It's been put on the shelf while we put the [new] boots out," Laakso said in a recent interview with Telemark Skier. "We don't want to release something that's addressing three-quarters of the issues."
And for any freeheeler with wool over their eyes, the issues are: Step in convenience, releasability, touring function, and retaining low weight and height. NTN, while a step up from standard 75 mm technology, hasn't done it all. And Laakso insists BD won't bring a binding to market that isn''t totally dialed. "If we didn't want release, boom, we'd be there," he said.
For now, it's all hands on deck to complete the very successful BD telemark and AT boot line. "We pulled everyone off everything and put them on boots," he said. "We had two-and-a-half engineers on the binding. One guy left the company, one guy went to the boot program."
And it's hard to build a revolutionary telemark binding with only half a guy. So, what's the future of the "grail?" Laakso says the project is still a centerpiece of BD's commitment to telemark. "It's not really on the shelf. Just on the back of the table," he concluded. But he's making no predictions as to when the telemark tribe will sit down for the feast.